Why Many College Dropouts Are Returning to School in NC

Graduating students attend USC's Commencement Ceremony at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California, May 15, 2015. To match Special Report COLLEGE-CHARITY/ REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo - S1BEUGXPMTAA

RALEIGH – It turns out when government offers people things for “free” (or close to it) a lot of them will waste no time in signing up for it. That is proving true for the NC Promise program passed by Republicans a couple years ago, a program that subsidizes tuition at three North Carolina universities with tens of million of taxpayer dollars.

The Big Government solution pushed by Republicans on Jones Street aimed to boost enrollment at select schools that were suffering a pronounced downtrend. It is working, so pat yourself on the back if you’re a taxpayer because you’re paying for someone else to go finish their degree.

“The college-affordability crisis can at times feel like a problem with a million responses but no clear solution. Students often graduate with thousands of dollars in debt, or, even worse, they drop out of college and are still left with debt to pay off.

As the student-debt bubble continues to grow—it is now estimated at more than $1.5 trillion—policy makers are poking around for that solution. One that has been proffered is “free college,” whether that’s tuition- or debt-free. But an alternate solution has taken hold in North Carolina, and perhaps it’s the simplest of all: Just lower tuition. And it’s getting students who have dropped out back into the classroom.

This fall, the state launched a program called NC Promise that sets tuition at a flat rate—$500 a semester for in-state students, and $2,500 a semester for out-of-state students—at three public universities in geographically disparate parts of North Carolina. To fund the program, the state legislature has set aside $51 million. And its goal is self-evident: Make college affordable enough to boost the number of students who enroll, while ensuring that they aren’t saddled with debt that could affect whether or not they graduate. And, for all intents and purposes, it’s working. The three institutions—UNC Pembroke, Western Carolina University, and Elizabeth City State University—have seen immediate enrollment jumps of 14, 6, and 19 percent, respectively.”

The best case scenario is that these student attain a degree, and subsequently a good paying job, so that they, too, can pay enough in taxes to make up for the handout.

Don’t get us wrong, people going back to get more education is not a bad thing, and we don;t begrudge a single person for taking advantage oft he opportunity. However, the idea that government should facilitate more enrollment with other people’s money hardly seems the conservative thing to do.

Read more from the Atlantic here.

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